Substance Abuse Policy - OLSS Belmullet

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Substance Abuse Policy


Policy on Substance Use


Except where otherwise stated this policy applies to all students, staff, parents, guardians and other users of the school premises during school times, during school related activities (including school tours) and whenever and wherever school discipline policy applies.

Relationship to Mission Statement:

Our Lady’s is a caring community, which fosters belonging and self-worth while promoting academic excellence and personal fulfilment. Our aim is to promote the development of the total person by creating a climate where the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, social and cultural development of all its students as a priority.  This is achieved by adherence to our code of behaviour.


Schools are not obliged to have a substance use policy by the governments National Drugs strategy 2001-2008.

In an age when substance use and abuse is increasingly prevalent it is important that Our Lady’s Develops policies and procedures in advance of substance related issues coming to attention.

Consultation Process:

The following were represented in the committee that drafted this policy:
 Parents Association
 Board of Management
 Students
 Staff

Considerable effort was made to ensure that all partners had a genuine input into the content of this policy.


 To inform school community and other users of the school policy and procedures in relation to substance use.
 To provide clear procedures for dealing with substance related incidents
 To offer support to students and other members of the school who require assistance by referral to support agencies:

 To provide training and education opportunities to support and implement this policy.

Definition of Substance:

For the purpose of this policy substance refers to tobacco, alcohol and all illegal and illicit drugs.  All illegal drugs together with the improper use of medication, solvents, magic mushrooms - this list is not exhaustive - and all dangerous substance.

Substance Use Education


The aim of the student substance education programme is to give young people the knowledge, skills and attitudes to appreciate the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and relate these to their choices about substance use both now and in the future.

Scope of Programme

Programme is intended for students and parents guardians within the school contact.

How it will be implemented:

 Through existing programmes i.e. SPHE
 Health Education
 Home Ec., Science, RE, PE, etc.
 Organising substance use awareness days.
Visiting speakers may be invited to support the programme.  Teachers should always be present and involved in the liasing with school to arrange drug awareness evenings for parents as the need arises.

Management of Drug Related Incidents

Introductory Statement:
Our Lady’s will endeavour to handle any substance related incidents in a firm and fair manner, with due regard for the safety and welfare of the individual(s) involved and of the other members of the school and to fulfil any legal obligation that applies.

Scope of Management Policy:

These procedures apply to students.

Substance abuse issues relating to staff will be dealt with under existing agreed management/staff procedures.

This policy is in force at all times on school premises during school related activities including school tours) and whenever and wherever school discipline policy applies.

Definition of a Substance Related Incident:

Under the terms of this policy a substance related incident is defined as the possession, use, supply or being present under the influence of alcohol, illicit drugs or mood altering substance.  Possession, use and supply of tobacco products also fall within the terms of a substance related incident.

Exception:  The correct and supervised use of cleaning agents and curriculum related materials/ingredients as specified by the staff member involved and individuals who are prescribed medication by medical doctors.

Internal Lines of Reporting and Recording:

1. All incidents of substance use will be reported to the Principal who will inform other members of staff as appropriate.
2. Students themselves are encouraged to inform a member of staff if they are aware of an incident.
3. While on excursions the teacher in charge will be responsible for the implementation of this policy.  However guidance should be sought from the Principal at the earliest opportunity.

Written records of substance use incidents will be stored in a confidential file by the Principal.  Reference should be made in the student’s normal file by the Principal indicating that further information is in the possession of the Principal.  If the name of the person is to be recorded on the file, they will be informed of this.


While every effort will be made to respect confidentiality, it is not possible to guarantee confidentiality to students in relation to substance related incidents, including disclosure of their own use.  Information may be shared for example with certain staff members, with the parents of those involved, or with an appropriate external agency.  The limits of confidentiality should be explained to the student prior to disclosure where possible.

Students who wish to speak to somebody in confidence may ask a member of the staff care team to put them in touch with an appropriate agency with the knowledge of the parent/guardian.

Informing/Involving Parents:

It will be standard procedure to inform parents/guardians if their son/daughter is involved in a substance related incident.

Parents/guardian involvement and support is seen as important in the resolution of these difficulties.  Consequently, parents/guardians may be invited to the school to discuss what has happened and the student will be informed that their parents/guardians are being notified.

Parents/guardians may ask the school Principal or a member of staff to refer them to an appropriate agency should they wish to seek further support and information.

Informing/Involving Gardaí:

Our Lady’s has a positive working relationship with the local Gardaí and together we have the welfare of the individual student, other students and the wider school community to consider.

Gardaí advice and involvement may be sought about incidents that are illegal and constitute a breach of this policy. This decision will rest with the Principal and other relevant staff.

Sanctions/Disciplinary Issues:

As per the code of discipline of this school a graded system of firm and consistent sanctions up to and including expulsion will apply to students involved in substance related incidents.

Support/Pastoral Issues:

Students involved in substance related incidents will be referred to school’s pastoral services.  The school may insist that the student engage in a treatment option.  Students or other members of the school who wish to speak to somebody about their own drug use or that of another person about whom they are concerned, are invited to approach the Principal or a member of the pastoral care team.  They will be offered support and information about external services with the knowledge of parents or guardians.

Procedure for Disposal of Illegal Drugs:

If an illegal drug (or suspected illegal drug) is found on school property or during school activity, it should be brought to the attention of the Principal or the person in charge.  It should be stored securely in the presence of at least two members of staff if possible.  It will be standard practice for the Principal to inform the gardaí.  The substance should be handled as little as possible and no attempt should be made to analyse it.  Two staff members should be present during any procedure involving handling of illegal substances.


This school reserves the right to search any part of the school property, including lockers, if there is reasonable cause to believe a substance in breach of this policy may be contained therein Two staff members must be present during any form of search.  Students will be given the option to volunteer the substance prior to search.  If a student refuses, their parents/guardians will be called in and gardaí will be called to conduct a search if any student should be suspected of illegal activity.

Health & Safety:

Under Health & Safety procedures it is recommended that the following be given attention:

 First Aid Procedure
 Storage, Use of Solvents
 Use, Administration of Medicines

Students are encouraged not to use aerosols excessively for health, environmental and safety reasons.

Provision for Staff Training and Development:

The management will provide staff with the necessary training to implement the substance use policy.

Monitoring, Review and Evaluation:

This policy will be monitored on an ongoing basis.  Review and evaluation will be as for the whole school planning process.

Implementation Programme:

 This policy will become operational upon sanction by the Board of Management.
 Parents will be made aware in writing of this policy and it availability.
 Students will be made aware of the policy through the Substance Use Education Programme.
 Staff will be made aware of the Policy through a special staff meeting and thereafter through a staff induction package.

AA - (01-4538998)
Al anon
HSE West North Mayo (096-60060
Regional Drugs Training Officer (94-9020649)
GP’s: Dr. Molloy, Dr. Swanick, Dr. Flynn
Garda Station
National Drugs Awareness (1850-719819)
Hope House
Ambulance Service
Psychiatric Services
R. McHale Addiction Councillor


 Policies should be listed in Journal
 Up date Journal on Drug Use
 Staff Training urgently needed
 List of activities undertaken to date must be recorded
 Searches of cans, bags, clothes and phones

Need for:
 Fully trained First Aiders
 What to do if someone needs medical attention
 What to do if students are outside school but in uniform, if students are in town but not signed out.
Avenue boundary

Sanctioned by the Board & CEIST 10-04-2008  

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